What Remains…

Defining Our Legacy

A quote from the movie P.S. I Love You reminds, “None of us come out of [this world] alive.” I’ve thought of it often, in particular this year, a time, in my own life, marked by loss and impending loss….

But since we can’t leave this world alive, what do we leave behind, on our way out? What remains after we’re gone, and for how long?

Fog over Mississippi, NOLA. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Fog over Mississippi. New Orleans, La. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

Truth is that, one way or another, we all want to leave behind a lasting legacy, something important to be remembered by. But what should that legacy be? And who decides?

When it comes to legacy, some people create change–that is, change for the better. Some start a movement or a mission powerful enough to transform generations to come…for the better. That’s a lasting legacy many of us can only dream to be able to leave behind.

Oftentimes, art is what many creatives leave behind, as their legacy. After all, it is through art that we learn about past generations. It is through art that future generations will learn about us.

Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography. Cover design by Alina Oswald. Photo by Kurt Weston.

While talking about his art and legacy in an interview for A&U Magazine [A&U, November 2005], award-winning photographer and AIDS advocate Kurt Weston mentioned that he wanted “future generations to be able to look at [his] work and say, ‘This was happening at this time in history and this is the impact it left on people whose lives it touched, this [AIDS] pandemic.’”

So, what do we want to be remembered by, when we leave this physical world? Would we want to be remembered by our art, by what we created, or by the reasons behind creating that art?

What would be the one book, image, movement, change, etc. that we created that would best represent us beyond our physical life?

Powerhouse Building, Jersey City
What Remains. Powerhouse Building in Jersey City, on the morning of September 11, 2010. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

What remains after we are gone? Do we ever think of that? Do we ever make art with our legacy in mind? Do we ever wonder what we’ll leave behind and how we will be remembered?

"Time waits for nobody." Solar clock. Lensbaby Velvet Photography by Alina Oswald.
“Time waits for nobody.” Sun Dial on Jersey City waterfront. Lensbaby Velvet Photography by Alina Oswald.

I’ve asked myself these questions many times. I’m still trying to find the answers.

Have you? Feel free to share your thoughts, if you so choose.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald


  1. Alina, thought provoking post. With either my writings or photographs i think, mostly, of present time but do wonder when I give up the ghost and stop production i will be noticed amongst the legions.


    1. Thanks so much, Jim! Appreciate it. I agree. I do writing and photography, myself, and it’s always been about having a (future) goal in mind. Only lately I’ve started thinking about what I, as a creative, would leave behind, if anything at all. Thanks for sharing! I also like your website/blog. Thanks again.


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